The WWF calls their latest report on new species discoveries in the Greater Mekong river region of Southeast Asia “Species Oddity”, so it's only natural one of the new creatures, a snake with rainbow-hued markings on its head, was unofficially dubbed “Ziggy Stardust”. The snake displays a pattern of prismatic markings on its head that reflect light in all the shades of the rainbow... or should we say, the rainbow-ie.
These images taken by photographer and expedition member Alexandre Teynié were taken during the WWF team's journey through Lao's northern province of Luang Prabang. As the group moved through a difficult-to-traverse area of eroded karst limestone, they came across an unusual snake.
“It did not look like something known,” relates Teynié. “We approached with shock, bringing to mind all known species in Asia that it may resemble, but there was no match!” Indeed, the colorful creature was only distantly related to snakes found in southern Laos, Vietnam and China. “These rare, small-range species highlight the necessity of protecting vulnerable land in the region,” stated Teynié.
Upon the researchers' return, it was determined the Ziggy Stardust snake was of an entirely new genus and it was formally named Parafimbrios lao. The snake was one of 163 new species discovered in the region by the WWF over the course of their 2015 expedition, the results of which were only just announced in the Species Oddity report. (via IFL Science!, Ziggy image via Oli Gill)